What would your Holiday Season be like if you never had another communication breakdown or unresolved misunderstanding at a family holiday gathering?
If that sounds unbelievable, keep reading…
The communication breakdowns that occur for many of us at this time of year are so predictable we can almost set our watches by them. The emotions of our seasonal expectations, the over-stimulation from the ever-present and relentless advertising to buy the “perfect gift for everyone on your list” that’s been bombarding us since Halloween and the exhaustion that is simply a by-product of our technological age all combine at this time of year to provide us with a fertile breeding ground for a whopping breakdown at some point in the next two weeks. And it’s gonna happen with the people you love most in the world—or the ones you want to and can’t yet.
The only reason that I have the audacity to mention this is because I used to be one of those people who could set my watch by the Holiday breakdowns. I used to dread this time of year, until I realized that the communication strategies I use with leaders and their teams and boards are uniquely suited to the demands of the Holidays. As soon as I saw that connection, everything changed. Once I started using the communication strategy I’m about the share with you, it transformed my Holidays.
Shift Your Perspective at the Holidays
- Imagine that there are always three perspectives for any situation. No matter what you’re experiencing in any moment, your experience is only one of those perspectives, not the absolute truth. Just this one consideration will save you a multitude of breakdowns.
- Consider that your perspective is the result of your beliefs, values, opinions and experiences. Those things are the truth for you and they’re always right—yet they are only right and true for you. Imagine that everyone else has this perspective as well, and that theirs is every bit as true for them as yours is for you. This consideration is the second perspective, the one that allows you to walk awhile in another person’s shoes and consider that they have a “right” and a “true” as well. Even though theirs may not align with yours, when you imagine that their perspective is every bit as valid as yours, you’ve mastered the second perspective. The most valuable thing about this perspective is the power it brings to your listening. When you listen to someone else while walking in their shoes, it gives them the most powerful feeling of being heard, even if you don’t agree with them. It’s amazing how this perspective prevents—or repairs—just about any breakdown.
- The third perspective is that of a detached observer, one who can stand outside the emotion and see both sides of the situation. It’s very helpful to have someone who does this for two people in conflict. Yet when you can do that for yourself, you will see and hear things that were not possible from either of the other two perspectives. This one is a game-changer that transforms conversations.
One caveat: As powerful as using this strategy is, the only breakdowns you can affect are your own. Should someone experience a breakdown in your presence, shifting your perspective will help you to stay calm and to listen.
Feel free to share this information with everyone you care about and see what happens when you use it.
In the meantime, have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season!